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Myths about Artemis, the Goddess of the Hunt and the Moon

Artemis, Apollo and the Tears of Niobe

Apollo killing the children of Niobe detail of a painting by Richard WilsonNiobe was the wife of Amphion, the King of Thebes. Together they had seven sons and seven daughters. Niobe and Amphion were very proud of their children.

Until one day, Niobe began to brag that she was superior to Leto, since Leto was only blessed with two children, Apollo, the god of the sun and Artemis, the goddess of the hunt. Outraged by the insult, Leto vowed revenge on Niobe, so she demanded that her children Apollo and Artemis eliminate Niobe's children one by one.

Apollo and Artemis obeyed and killed all fourteen children with arrows dipped in poison. Apollo aimed at the male children, while Artemis aimed at the female children. After their horrible deaths, Niobe's children had to remain unburied for nine days because Zeus, the king of the gods, promised that he would turn anyone into stone who tried to bury the children.

The royal couple were inconsolable. Amphion committed suicide while Niobe fled to Sipylos, a city in the Near East. Once there, she begged the gods for mercy and begged them to take her life. The gods eventually took pity and turned Niobe to stone, placing her on top of the city.

Every summer since that day, drops of water can be seen seeping from the pores of the stone ... they are none other than the tears of Niobe!

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